It's about that time of the year when family and freinds are a priority, Turkeys are landing on your plate and holiday parties seem to never end. It's also the time when workouts are more easily missed and we tend to put on a couple of pounds so that our new year's resolution is more profound.
The problem is that this extended semi vacation can have some serious detrimental effects on our health, here are some reasons around why this happens:
1. Overall food consumption goes up so caloric balance is tipped into the positive more, so we store more fat.
2. The type of food is the overcooked, oversweetened, refined variety, washed down with more alcohol than usual (if you don't drink alcohol, then watch those spritzers, sodas, juices and apple cider drinks) - The effect of this is that we are eating enzyme dead food, so there is a huge burden on the body to try to digest these foods, leading to a overall drop in energy and immunity, which in turn leads to a lack of drive to exercise and a higher susceptibility to getting sick. Lastly, the above mentioned foods are generally acidic and reduce the overall pH of the body.
3. We get less sunlight exposure - Vitamin D levels drop, melatonin goes out of what and Seasonal Affective disorder can start to slowly manifest.
4. "Structured" hydration decreases (I'll delve further into structured hydration later in this post). Due to the cold weather, we are naturally inclined to drink less pure water and in addition reach for warmer "comfort" drinks that are often caffeine based and have a diuretic effect on the body.
Alkalize and Energize through the Holiday Season.
Follow these steps and you are assured a more pleasurable and healthy holiday season as well as a headstart on your new year's resolutions around your health.
1. Holiday Meals:
When attending a holiday event centered around food, here are some methods for miniziming two detrimental effects in the body, Insulin response and Acidity:
a. Drink strucutured water before you leave home and green drink too, to keep you alkaline. This will also create a health conscious mindset before the event itself and you'll have less of a desire to indulge in refined, fatty carbohydrates.
b. When you start eating, start with the most fibrous food first if available, then move onto the protien part of the meal and then let the carbs creep in if you must.
c. at dessert time if you still have space and really want that dessert, go for the least processed, highest fat dessert. This will again work to reduce insulin response. DO NOT eat a bunch of Fruit after a large meal, it will just sit in your gut and rot.
2. Digestive Enzymes - if you don't already use digestive enzymes, this might be a good time to start, to help your body deal with all the enzyme-dead food you are more likely to eat at this time of the year. Digestive enzymes are great because they reduce the burden on your body to produce enzymes to digest food - this means you digest your food better and faster and your body can spend the extra resources on other stuff like muscle repair or making your immune system stronger. I have used a ton of enzymes on the market and my favorite ones are:
- Enriching gifts: http://www.enrichinggifts.com/
- Enzymatic Therapy: Meal Time Enzymes
- Enzymedica: Digest Gold
- Renew Life: Digest More and Digest More Ultra
3. Structured Hydration - simply drinking tons of water is not a bad idea, but this is better. When you wake up in the morning, first thing, squeeze a half or whole lemon into a 16oz glass of water ( I use distilled water via my home distiller), then add a 1/4 tsp of himalayan crystal salt to that water, stir and enjoy. Follow this up right away with a Green Drink. Then start the rest of your eating for the day.
You can get the salt online or possibly at your chiropractor: http://www.himalayancrystalsalt.com/
4. Greens Supplement (or fresh, live juice)
Ideally, I would recommend that you start your day with live, fresh vegetable juice which contains a variety of fresh vegetables and bunch of wheatgrass (which is superfood). If you don't have a juicer, or don't want to spend the time or effort juicing every morning, then a high quality greens supplement is next on the list.
I've tried a couple and the ones I like the best are:
- Barleans: Greens
4. Vitamin D :
The most active form of Vitamin D is D3 (Cholecaliferol) which is synthesised in the skin in response to exposure to the sun's UV rays. The best alternative to sunlight is a good, high quality tanning bed - about 15 mins a day will do it. If you don't have access to a tanning bed, I suggest a good cod liver oil. I use the Barlean's brand for this too, when i feel I'm not getting enough sun: http://www.barleans.com/fishoil.asp
5. Excercise types
There are 2 goals here in terms of holiday workouts:
a. Make use of the extra calories
b. OR burn as many of the extra calories as possible
How do we do this?
If you know that on some evening you are planning to attend a holiday dinner where not partaking in the eating would be rude, then earlier in the day, do a relatively large, full body or multiple body part, bodybuilding routine. This will cause siginificant muscle stress and the extra calories you eat will be used to grow you new muscle.
Secondly, if we know were are eating more food than usual, the goal is to re-balance the caloric flux a good way to do this is cardio! yup.... good old cardio - 30-60 mins of steady state work at the high end of the "cardio" or aerobic zone. around 160 - 180 HR for most people. This will acheive 2 things:
i. it will burn off hte sugar and glycogen in your system from the last large meal, which allows more of the next large meal to be stored as glycogen as opposed to fat
ii. It will burn off some fat :)
High intensity workouts are highly acidic to the body and this is a condition we want to avoid, especially at this time of the year. That said, if you are a strong beleiver in HIT workouts, like crossfit, choose workouts that are long enough to produce a nice total calorie burn. This will depend on volume, so in pick something that you know will take YOU around 30 mins to complete and leave you in a pool of sweat.
6. Optional for Athletes: Glutamine at night or Pre-workout (5-10 g)
Glutamine is an amazing supplement and you can research more on glutamine to see why it's so good for you. Reasons for including it here:
i. Glutamine has an effect on intracellular hydration: certain amino acids such as glutamine require a sodium ion-dependent pump in order to get into cells. Cellular hydration works mostly via osmosis and concentration gradients, so when a cell needs glutamine, then the "solution" inside the cell needs to more dilute (higher water concentration) in order for there to be a flow of ions and amino acids from outside a cell to the inside of a cell. So in order for the body to get the gluatmine into the cells, it needs to hydrate the cells first.
ii. Glutamine has an alkalizing effect on the body: When the body is acidic, there are bunch of hydrogen ions (H+) floating around in the blood. Glutamine binds to these ions to create ammonium which is then excreted from the body, thus reducing the overall acidity of the body.
You can get most of the products mentioned above in your local supplement store, whole foods or online. If you are getting any of the Barleans' products, let me know, i might be able to get them for you at a discount, I personally know one of the Barleans very well :)Have a fabulous holiday season! Alkalize, Energize and Thrive!